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Have you heard of bone broth? It's become a bit of a hot topic lately. But instead of spending $3.50 on a cup of bone broth (ludicrous), I'm here to teach you how to make your own. It's really very simple and requires about 5 minutes of actual hands-on time.
The hardest part is sourcing the bones. This specific broth is made with beef bones, specifically femur bones (but knuckles and necks are also good choices due to their cartilage content). My husband and I belong to a raw milk coop from a farm that is home to some very well-treated grass-fed cows. Sometimes I can get bones from them. If not, I pick up a few pounds of frozen beef bones at Whole Foods (also from grass-fed cows, according to the label).
There are some extra steps you can take if you'd like that supposedly add more flavor, such as roasting the bones in the oven for an hour before beginning the broth. I always skip this step, simply due to time constraints and having a toddler running around at my ankles all day long.
But basically, you throw the bones in a large pot (I use an enameled cast-iron pot with a lid), throw in some roughly chopped veggies, like onion, celery, carrots, etc. And then cover them all with pure, filtered water. Bring this mixture up to a gentle simmer. Bubbles and scum will form on the surface (you can see it a little in the photo above, taken around this point in the process) - skim those away and throw them down the sink. Throw in a tablespoon or two of raw apple cider vinegar and some good quality sea salt. Once no more scum forms, you are ready to put the lid on and let time do the work. Leave the broth to bubble very slowly and gently for at least 24 hours. 36 is ideal. We generally do 24-28, depending on what time Finn takes his nap and I have the time to focus my attention!
Now you must strain the broth - this can be tricky because the pot will be heavy. Strain it through a fine sieve. Use a ladle to spoon it out into the sieve if you're unable to lift the pot and pour it. Make sure the sieve is positioned on top of another pot to catch all that good broth! I've definitely almost strained all the liquid gold down the sink before...
And your broth is almost ready! The next step is another waiting game. Let the broth cool at room temperature for a little while. Then transfer it to a jar or other container, and place in the fridge to cool completely (overnight probably). A layer of solidified fat will form at the surface - scoop this off and keep for another cooking purpose. NOW your bone broth is ready to either eat or freeze!
You can freeze this broth for a good 3 months in the jar. Or keep in the fridge for a week. Heat up to a simmer before slurping! Or use it as a base for soups and stews.
So why on earth would you jump through all these hoops just to make a semi-clear liquid? The reasons abound.
- Homemade broth is packed with essential minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, and other nutrients, such as gelatin and glucosamine - they are leached from the bones through the slow-cooking process and the inclusion of apple cider vinegar, which helps to draw the minerals out.
- These minerals are very easily absorbed by the body, making it an amazing healing food for those who have compromised immune systems or digestive issues (such as leaky gut syndrome or irritable bowel). It's also wonderful for babies and small children who don't yet have the digestive capacity for red meats.
- One pot of broth will give you several weeks' worth of servings, depending on how often you drink it. If you (and your family) are sick, you could easily go through a pot of broth in a week, and will be making it more often. But since the broth lasts 3 months in the freezer, chances are if you're good and healthy, you won't need to do this process more than 5 times a year. However, it's a great practice to get into!
- Gelatin is a powerful nutrient that deserves a bit more attention here. Its' health benefits are numerous - it can strengthen your hair, skin & nails, joints, and muscles. It can help to balance hormones. It is the crucial aspect in broth that supports digestive health, lining the intestinal walls which can be damaged due to leaky gut syndrome or IBS. (This is the reason I started making it in the first place, since Finn had some digestive issues around his first birthday. Since drinking broth, things have greatly improved!)
- It is wonderfully supportive to the liver, making it an amazing detox food/beverage. In fact, it is just the thing to consume on my Winter Renewal Detox, starting this Monday!
- 3 lbs of grass-fed beef bones, ideally rich in cartilage or marrow (knuckles, femur, neck)
- 1-2 onions, roughly chopped
- 3-4 organic carrots, roughly chopped (don't bother peeling)
- 2-3 celery ribs, roughly chopped
- Any other veggies or fresh herbs you'd like to add to flavor your broth! Choice is yours
- 1-2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp sea salt
- Plenty of pure, filtered water
- Place all ingredients in a large, heavy pot with a lid. Cover the bones and veggies with pure filtered water. Bring to a simmer and skim off the surface scum.
- Put lid on and continue to gently simmer for 24-36 hours, refilling with filtered water and skimming surface as needed.
- Strain broth through a fine sieve into another large pot.
- Leave to cool before decanting into storage containers, just as mason jars. Place in the fridge overnight.
- Remove layer of solidified fat - this can be used for other culinary purposes, so save it!
- Broth is ready for consumption or storage! One cup is the serving size, so feel free to portion it out before freezing for easier defrosting.
- Prepared broth will keep in its container in the fridge for up to 7 days and in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Tuesday is Valentine's Day, which means we've been swimming in a sea of pink and red and hearts and roses for far too long now. Is it just me, or is the bombardment of Valentine's-themed junk reaching an all-time high this year? Every day I keep seeing more nonsense for sale online and in the shops, mostly made out of chocolate or flowers. This year, to celebrate all things romance, why not make something good to eat? I've got two recipes here that are completely non-conventional and yet totally sexy. After reading up on aphrodisiac foods, and after taking stock of the ingredients we had at home, the following soup and dessert were created on a whim and completely on the fly. I'm getting much more comfortable cooking without first consulting a recipe to adapt. The dessert in particular is a romantic one because it was a collaboration between my husband and I; he made up the cookies, I whipped up the cream, and a beautiful love cookie sandwich was born.
Forget the oysters and champagne. This year it's all about truffle oil and cacao.
Truffles are a luxury and a joy. While I can't say I've ever prepared a meal at home with fresh truffles, I certainly love to drizzle black truffle oil on special meals to finish them off. If you're planning on cooking this Valentine's Day, consider picking up a bottle of truffle oil to add another dimension to your meal. Apparently, they're the most potent aphrodisiac for women because their musky scent mimics that of male pheromones. And your sexy truffle-scented food will be super impressive considering the fact that the most expensive truffle in history was sold for over $160,000! Of course, a small bottle of truffle-infused olive oil will cost quite a lot less, but just make sure you pick up the real thing (containing real truffles rather than just the scent). I used a black truffle oil to drizzle on this creamy carrot soup.
Cacao, of course, is the reason chocolate is always given as a romantic gift. The science behind the aphrodisiac properties lies in the raw cacao bean. It contains theobromine, which stimulates our pleasure-seeking neurotransmitters, much like caffeine. It also contains magnesium, a calming mineral and a hormone balancer. Sorry, but you're not going to find this good stuff in a bag of M&Ms. Go for at least 70% cacao dark chocolate, or better yet, pick up some raw chocolate. Even better than that, make it yourself (3 ingredients: raw cacao butter, raw cacao powder, raw honey)!
Creamy Carrot & Thyme Soup
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins